AJ Styles (c) vs Kota Ibushi
IWGP Heavyweight Championship
Ryogoku Kokugikan, Tokyo, Japan
Starts off kind of slow, with AJ having the upper hand, constantly saying “you’re not ready for me”. Nice series of pin attempts where Ibushi reverses the Styles Clash into a close nearfall. Ibushi gets some momentum going, but AJ cuts him off with quick thinking and a German on the outside. Kenny Omega is on the outside and is clearly upset that AJ is doing this to an old friend of his. Ibushi gets a bit of room when he kicks AJ as he’s going for a springboard, and it’s pretty sick, but AJ recovers and goes right back to work on Ibushi’s leg. AJ goes for a low dropkick to the knee, but Ibushi leaps and counters it into a double stomp followed by a moonsault to the outside, no-selling. Quite a bit of no-selling of the leg from Ibushi here, despite many opportunities for cool spots that would require him to sell. Coooooool spot where Ibushi tries to lift AJ onto the turnbuckle with a front suplex, but AJ kicks off the turnbuckle to get leverage to suplex Ibushi into said turnbuckle. Some back and forth where each man no-sells each other’s strikes, which makes AJ’s legwork look pretty weak, as it doesn’t stop Ibushi from using his leg to kick AJ multiple times. Lots of Ibushi pretending like his leg’s fine and landing on his head. Big Frankensteiner from Ibushi, followed by a lariat and fine powerbomb. He goes up for a Phoenix Splash, but Omega gets up on the apron and while he doesn’t stop him, it makes Ibushi pause. Ibushi goes for the Phoenix Splash, but AJ grabs him in the Styles Clash and pins him for a pretty damn crazy finish. Omega is real upset after the match, trying to go along with his friends congratulating AJ, but can’t fully commit to it. Pretty solid match, hampered by Ibushi’s no-selling, and I’m not sure that it builds real well, but it’s fun nonetheless, and one of the IWGP Heavyweight title matchces from this year I actually like all in all. One of AJ’s better performances this year as well.